Western Washington University is committed to academic freedom, freedom of speech, petition and assembly. These are fundamental to the democratic process. They are also fundamental to the academic process.
Western makes clear that these freedoms are to be exercised in a manner that protects the rights of all members of the campus community.
The following principles provide the foundation for expression at Western Washington University:
- Freedom of speech (also called freedom of expression) is a fundamental right guaranteed by the U.S. and Washington State constitutions.
- The values and behavior of the campus community with respect to expression are informed not only by the law, but by a shared responsibility and commitment to treating each other with respect, civility, and empathy, including when discussing or debating controversial topics.
- Freedom of speech at Western does not extend to specific threats of violence against individuals, including targeted stalking, defamation or harassment that unjustifiably invades substantial privacy or confidentiality interests, or that is exercised in ways that significantly disrupt the operations of the University or the legal rights of others. 1
- The University may reasonably regulate the time, place and manner of expression to ensure that it does not disrupt the University’s activities or the legal rights of others.
- While the University will not suppress constitutionally protected speech, it may choose to make its own statements or invite different viewpoints when facing speech that runs counter to Western’s commitment to diversity, inclusion and equity.
It is vital in a university community to balance freedom of expression with respect for the rights of others. It is the responsibility of us all – faculty, staff, students, administrators, and visitors and guests to our campus – to ensure that freedom of expression and assembly are conducted in an atmosphere that promotes intellectual discussion.